The Prints of Rajasthan
It was in Rajasthan that I became totally encapsulated by the dazzling, colourful, life-embracing fabrics I saw all around me. Whether it was the silk saris worn by Indian women, or the perfectly bound turbans adorned by gypsy men playing music and singing traditional songs on the street, there was something very special about the clothes, fabrics and textiles of the “colourful” Indian state of Rajasthan.
In particular, there was one textile pattern I saw again and again which caught my eye, and my heart. I called it the “dot, dot, dot” print and, although I was aware of it before I came to India, it was in Rajasthan that I witnessed it in a new, awe-inspiring way.
I began to seek deeper inspiration through these dots and the spaces in between: unearthing layers of cultural, cosmological and spiritual meaning within the beautiful dotted patterns of space and colour. Little did I know where these dots would lead me!
At this time, I had just finished my Yoga Teacher Training in Traditional Tantra and Hatha Yoga in Rishikesh and I was travelling through Mid and Northern India. During my teacher training, I had been exposed to much Hindu and Tantric philosophy, including that of the Ten Mahavidyas: The Ten Wisdom Goddesses.
These Goddesses are said to be different personalities or cosmic manifestations of the universal divine feminine energy Shakti, or Durga (Hindu deities have a tendency to have avatars and versions, so it can get complicated!
Ultimately we can understand these Goddess as energies existing both in the universe and also within ourselves; we may be able to identify goddess traits within our personalities and summon the goddess energies for strength, guidance and transformation in our lives.
It should be noted however that, even though there are many goddesses, difference is ultimately an illusion. All of the goddesses are aspects of Shakti: the divine feminine energy which the Universe is made from, and in turn Shakti relies on the masculine energy: pure consciousness or Shiva, to exist.
But, out of all the Hindu deities and goddesses I learnt about in India, it was the fourth Wisdom Goddess, Bhuvaneshvari, whom I felt personally drawn to.
Bhuvaneshvari is the Goddess of infinite space, expansion and potential. She offers us the space to grow and change, and for the universe to multiply and expand. Ultimately, she embodies the infinite possibilities of manifested Shakti in the universe: the limitless potential of what has, can, could and will be, in the realm of space. Bhuvaneshvari is space, the cosmic womb, but as Sally Kempton so aptly writes:
"You can't confine or define her simply as space, because Bhuvaneshwari is also layered into the physical world. The world is inside her body, and yet she is at the heart of everything as the space inside every atom"
2013: Awakening Shakti, pp. 302-304
On a personal level, I discovered her firstly through Yoga. She was my Yoga.
As I practised Hatha and Tantra Yoga, I found expansion and space through my breath: with each exhalation releasing and letting go. And then at the end of the exhale, pause
A simple vacuum of nothingness. A sacred pause of possibility. Yet held within this pause, the ultimate potential to inhale and expand anew: a new experience, a new exploration of the boundless space within.
It was this “dot, dot, dot” print which reminded me of Bhuvaneshvari.
Something about the colourful dotted fabric, with so much variety and even more potential, encapsulated the goddess of space, and the energy of being itself. The dots became the atoms, but it is the space in between which makes the fabric, and gives it such awe-inspiring beauty.
The dots became the atoms, but it is the space in between which makes the fabric and gives it such awe-inspiring beauty.
It was the connection I felt with this fabric which led me to found my fashion venture. Inspired by Bhuvaneshvari and the energies of Shakti, I imagined Flossophy Fashion as a philosophy brought to people through clothing.
By providing beautiful, colourful, flowing, swirling garments underpinned by an ethical and sustainable ethos, Flossophy Fashion could allow people to embody life- the energies of Shakti- to invoke dance and joy! I was lucky enough to meet two talented tailors who helped me bring my ideas to life, designing clothing with a goddess apparel feel while using sustainable, recycled sari fabrics in the print I called “dot, dot, dot.”
It has been just over a year since this all happened, and somehow I have only just learnt the real name of the dotted fabric: “Bandhani” or “Bandhej.”
Bandhani gets its name from the Sanskrit word Banda meaning “to tie” whereby the pattern is created through a tie-dye technique, utilising small pegs and threads to bind the fabric. It is then submerged in dyes of different colours such as purple, red, yellow and green. The fabrics are then left to dry with the ties still in place. Once dry and the pegs are removed, the fabric is left with beautiful “dots” in patterns where the ties prevented the dye penetration.
The Bandhani tie-dye method is said to be over 5000 years old! Pretty funny when we think of tye-dye today as that which was popularised in the counter-cultural hippie movements of 1960s America.
In a similar way, they can both be said to encapsulate creativity and the abstract concept of infinite potential (the cosmic energy of Bhuvaneshvari): expansion and expression. But, if you ask me, the patterns tied with Bandhari are much, much more beautiful!
Bandhani today relates to both the technique of tie and dying, but also the characteristic small dot surrounded by patterns of dots featured on the fabric, although today many Bandhani patterns are mechanically printed and reproduced.
What do you think of Bandhani, and which is your favourite Bandhani inspired Flossophy Fashion item? Can you feel the parallels between the energies of Bhuvaneshvari and those invoked by the dots and spaces of Bandhani?
Thank you for reading and hope you are staying safe! Best wishes, Floss xx